On Oct. 11, 2021, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission issued a Statement of Need and Reasonableness (SONAR) regarding proposed amendments to the certificate of need and site and route permit application administrative rules for large electric generating facilities and high-voltage transmission lines (HVTLs), chapters 7849 and 7850. In addition, the commission proposed amendments to rules governing the certificate of need notice plan filing requirements under Minn. R. 7829.2550. This is the first comprehensive proposed revision of these rules since 2005.

The commission issued the SONAR as part of a formal rulemaking proceeding to update, improve, clarify, and reorganize the commission’s procedures for considering these applications. The proposed rule changes are intended to reflect technology changes and codify practices that have developed over time, which reflect not only the commission’s experiences, but also those of parties, stakeholders, and staff, and reflect legislative changes.

As summarized in the SONAR, the amendments offer significant revisions to the certificate of need and site and route permit administrative rules applicable to large electric generating facilities and HVTLs. Among other things, the amendments would update notice requirements for certificates of need, such as by eliminating notice plan approval prior to issuing the required application notice and shortening the timeframe by when the commission would deem an application complete. In addition, the amendments would update the certificate of need application content requirements and amend the certificate of need criteria, to repeal criteria already addressed by statute. That is, the proposed amendments would supplement statutory certificate of need criteria, in order to provide clarity as to the criteria to be considered when evaluating a certificate of need application. The amendments would also update the process for the environmental report preparation.

The proposed amendments would update existing siting and routing notice requirements and pre-application procedures for the siting of proposed large electric generating facilities and HVTLs, update environmental review requirements, as well as establish and update post-permit requirements. The proposed amendments would also update and establish procedural review timelines and pre-application requirements.

The commission has issued a Notice of Intent to Adopt Rules Without a Public Hearing. Persons may submit comments about, or request a hearing on, the proposed rules by 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2021. If 25 or more persons request a hearing, then a public hearing would be held on Dec. 6, 2021, via WebEx, at 10:30 a.m. When filing comments, a person must include his or her name and address and indicate which proposed rule is opposed or whether the entire set of rules are opposed. The rulemaking docket number is E999/R-12-1246. Additional information can be found on the commission’s website here.